“I kept hitting her, kept hitting her,” Shields said. “I told myself, keep hitting her until she quits.”
Shields won Olympic gold in 2012 in London and repeated the feat four years later in Rio de Janiero.
Shields cut a wide swath of fans: 76ers center Dwight Howard wrote “Let’s go champ” on Instagram and actress Rosie Perez tweeted “Best of luck tonight.” Ray Lewis, who has an equity stake in PFL and serves on its advisory board, watched cage-side and admired Shields’ decision to shift to MMA while still in the prime of her boxing career.
“The genius of champions making transitions is they start all over and don’t care,” said Lewis, the Hall of Fame linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens. “Lot of people are afraid to start over. They end their careers, I’m stuck, I’m good. But when you make that transition, you’re chasing something else. I think she’s chasing something else and just that’s good to see. I just love her adapting to it.”
CEO Peter Murray said Shields would fight one more time this year for PFL before a decision was made for 2022.
“This is just her first step to prove to herself that she has really what it takes to make the ’22 season,” Murray said.
One potential dream match for 2022 in the PFL would have Shields fight Kayla Harrison. Harrison, a two-time Olympic judo gold medalist, has emerged as the face of PFL. Harrison (9-0) fights again on June 25.
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